Braving the skies during COVID-19

COVID-19 has affected people’s travel plans this holiday season, and with positivity rates spiking, people are starting to question whether or not they should travel. 

On Nov. 21, I flew from Fla. to Ohio to visit family for Thanksgiving. I knew with cases increasing I needed to be careful, especially in the airports that can get crowded during peak travel times. As well, air travelers experience a variety of activities that involve close contact with other travelers.

When traveling through the airports, it was nice to see there were no problems with people following CDC guidelines for COVID-19; everyone was wearing masks, social distancing and hand sanitizing. 

I was surprised, however, to see a larger amount of people traveling than expected when I got to Palm Beach International Airport, but even with restricted seats on the aircraft, many were still open. I think people, including myself, enjoyed the vacancy on the plane. 

Upon entering the airport, there were clear barriers between you and airline workers, including security, which made me more comfortable because there’s the reinforcement of a physical barrier. 

Flights were boarding starting with the rows at the back of the plane, which while I understand helps reduce the risk of exposure, it was a very confusing process. Travelers didn’t realize their row was already called, so there was a group of passengers all boarding last minute. 

In Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, commonly known as “Atlanta airport,” it was significantly busier than the other airports. There were a number of restaurants and shops closed, which made it more difficult to find somewhere to get food or even buy water. 

While I think it is smart to not have as many venues open in the airport, for people who have specific diet restrictions, like vegans, the options for food are limited. I could see why people would avoid air travel as a result.  

On the flight, passengers received a bag with snacks and a small water, as opposed to flight attendants asking you what you want to drink and them standing there while they pour it. I think these bags are a great idea, and I hope it becomes routine practice on flights because they are easier to handle with limited space.        

Overall, it was not a bad experience even if it did make me slightly uneasy. However, if you plan to travel by plane, I would highly suggest traveling on weekdays that are less busy, and avoid booking flights at peak travel hours.